Junior doctors today begin their longest ever walkout – as hospital bosses say they are “sick to the back teeth” of strikes.

NHS managers say each strike is costing their hospitals millions of pounds, as revealed by The Sun last month, and ruining their efforts to clear waiting lists.

Trainee medics will strike for five days in a row in England before consultants stage another walkout for two days from July 20.

Sir Julian Hartley, chief executive of NHS Providers, said: “This week’s strikes will lead to an unprecedented level of disruption to patient care.

“We need to see rapid resolution to industrial action as we can’t afford strikes to become ‘business as usual’.

“Industrial action also poses a significant financial risk and increasing costs due to agency spend and the impact of consultant rate cards.

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“There's a high level of frustration, exasperation and deep concern that there doesn't appear to be a resolution in sight.”

Hospitals spent around £100million covering strikes in April alone, he said.

NHS hospital trust chief executives said previous three-day strikes cost them around £1million each.

They said they had to cancel 1,500 procedures on each of the previous walkouts and predicted the next wave of action would see around 3,000 dropped per trust.

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In total, strikes have already impacted around 600,000 hospital appointments across the NHS, with tens of thousands more set to be affected in the coming weeks.

Sir Stephen Powis, NHS national medical director, said: “We will now see industrial action on 11 of the next 14 days so we are entering an incredibly busy, disruptive period for the NHS.

“While staff continue to work hard to provide patients with the care they need, the next strike is the longest and most disruptive yet.”

The British Medical Association, which is organising the strikes, claimed action could still be halted if the Government bends to its pay demands of up to 35 per cent.

Union bosses used the example of Scotland – where junior doctors called off a strike after agreeing a rise of 12.4 per cent last week – to show a deal could be struck.

Dr Robert Laurenson, of the BMA’s junior doctors’ committee, said: “We have to get back to talks. 

“The Government’s refusal to talk with junior doctors in England who have strikes planned, is out of keeping with all norms of industrial action.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: “It is disappointing that the BMA is going ahead with further strike action. 

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"This five-day walkout by junior doctors will have an impact on thousands of patients, put patient safety at risk and hamper efforts to cut NHS waiting lists.

"“If the BMA shows willingness to move significantly from their current pay demands and cancels these damaging and disruptive strikes, we can get around the table to find a fair deal to resolve this dispute.”

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